Dodgers Seemingly Scrap Spending Plans, Acquire Miguel Rojas

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Over the previous decade, some storied names have manned shortstop for the Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez, Corey Seager, Trea Turner, heck, even an getting old Jimmy Rollins was captain of the infield in LA in 2015 (though that transfer was ill-conceived). And now, after two years of historic free agent shortstop courses that noticed the departures of each Seager and Turner, the big-money Dodgers might be including to that listing… Miguel Rojas?

At first look, that is shocking. But by some measures, it is smart: The Dodgers unfold their cash round and are much less top-heavy than their rich counterparts. Even as they head into 2023 with an estimated $41 million much less on the books than in ’22, the Dodgers will nonetheless be doling out $20 million or extra to a few gamers (4 should you embody Trevor Bauer). However, in comparison with the 5 different members of the $200 million payroll membership, this mark is both tied for the bottom or no less than beneath common relying on if we depend Bauer: The Yankees are handing $20 million to 6 gamers, the Padres and Phillies 5 , and the Mets 4. While the Angels solely have three such gamers in that class, all are taking dwelling no less than $30 million and no Dodger is. In reality, of the $200 million membership, the Dodgers and Phillies are the one groups with no $30 million payout for 2023.

So, it stands to cause that of those groups, the Dodgers is perhaps finest outfitted to reset their hefty consecutive-year luxurious tax penalty this offseason. Yet this is the place the Rojas commerce does not make sense yet again: including him appears to place the Dodgers over the primary luxurious tax threshold.

Perhaps this commerce will mark the primary in a flurry that features the Dodgers each upgrading at shortstop and discovering themselves beneath the primary threshold once more. A serious cause the latter has been so tough is that the Dodgers have been hoping Bauer’s suspension would proceed via the 2023 season. Instead, the suspension was decreased on December 22, which left the Dodgers on the hook for his 2023 wage and exceedingly near the primary threshold (though nonetheless beneath). But the following transfer the Dodgers make possible will not be a Bauer commerce; a part of the explanation they took each little bit of the 2 weeks following his reinstatement to DFA him was as a result of they have been in all probability ready to see if one other crew would specific curiosity in a commerce, however nobody did. Additionally, they possible did not launch him outright as a result of DFAing him has given them one other seven days to hunt a commerce; these seven days are up January 13.

Barring a last-minute suitor for Bauer, there are different methods the Dodgers can release payroll. They may throw in a prospect in an effort to dump Blake Treinen’s wage; after lacking most of 2022 with shoulder points and in the end present process surgical procedure, the righty seems set to overlook most (if not all) of ’23. Or, now that they’ve some extra center infield assist in the type of Rojas, they might deal considered one of Chris Taylor or Max Muncy.

This situation is probably the most believable. Both gamers can be enticing to win-now groups and neither comes with a very daunting monetary burden. Taylor, who has three years and $41 million left on his contract (plus a $12 million membership choice for 2026), is coming off of his worst offensive displaying since 2016. But he handled a bevy of accidents together with a fractured foot and nonetheless managed to carry his personal defensively at a number of positions. In reality, his utility is what may make the Dodgers maintain onto him; at present, he sits atop their depth chart in left area and figures to issue into the combo in all places however first base and catcher.

Muncy can also be coming off of a down yr offensively, though he has a greater observe report with the bat than Taylor and the next offensive ground on account of his batting eye. Furthermore, an elbow damage within the spring messed along with his mechanics; a tweak caused a second-half rebound. He’s additionally marginally cheaper than Taylor and comes with much less of a dedication, as he’ll be making $13.5 million this yr with a $10 million membership choice for 2024. However, he is much less versatile: he sits atop the depth chart at third, the place he is traditionally graded out worst based on Outs Above Average (OAA), though he figures to think about at first and second as effectively.

To me, Muncy looks as if the extra apparent commerce candidate. While each him and Taylor are buy-lows, he is proven extra tangible indicators of returning to type and comes with a smaller and shorter dedication; he’d have extra suitors. Plus, the Dodgers can be largely relegating him to an unnatural place at third. On the opposite hand, OAA has usually preferred Taylor’s work within the left. Plus, Miguel Vargas would stand to realize from a deal involving both Muncy or Taylor, and Vargas has performed probably the most at third lately within the minors, making him a extra pure successor to Muncy.

Luxury tax concerns apart, it is simple to see how Rojas matches into the Dodgers’ plans even alongside Muncy and Taylor. This offseason, the membership misplaced a superb defender in Cody Bellinger and a strong one in Trea Turner. To substitute Turner at brief, they have been poised to shift over Gavin Lux and Taylor. OAA likes Lux rather more at second, though his work at brief within the majors consists of only a 500-inning pattern; he’ll nonetheless have alternatives to spell Rojas at brief in opposition to righties, however with much less strain, so the Dodgers will get one other likelihood to see if he is viable there long-term. Rojas is simply below contract for one yr, at a cool $5 million, however his sure-handedness will maintain down the fort throughout that point. Since 2017, the yr he began enjoying shortstop full-time, he ranks 14th in shortstop OAA among the many 87 gamers with no less than 250 makes an attempt. Turner, who by the way began enjoying brief concurrently, ties for sixteenth; Rojas is an improve even over him.

There are a few different uncomfortable side effects of the Rojas acquisition. Let’s assume for now that the Dodgers will maintain onto all of Taylor, Muncy, and Rojas — sure, even Rojas might be flipped. The creation of Rojas will free Taylor as much as spend extra time enhancing the membership’s sans-Bellinger outfield protection. Additionally, with Lux transferring again to second, Muncy primarily at third, and Taylor primarily in left, Vargas might be with no clear function. Yet, this may occasionally really be a constructive: Although Vargas has performed extra third than outfield within the minors, our Eric Longenhagen famous not too long ago that Vargas’s below-average glove has appeared okay in left, which is to say superior to his play at third. Given that the crew continues to be more likely to make the most of Taylor and Muncy’s versatility, there might be ample alternative for the Dodgers to cycle Vargas between his two more-obvious matches and proceed assessing the place his final touchdown spot might be.

After all of this postulating, the Rojas transfer nonetheless does not sit fairly proper with me. It’s in all probability as a result of, regardless of the positives he brings to the crew, I can not wrap my head round why the Dodgers selected to deal their Fifteenth-best prospect in trade for him. Yes, they’ve a deep system. But Jacob Amaya was their highest-ranked shortstop, and a major-league prepared one at that. Eric pegged him for a utility function within the close to future and described him because the “finest defensive infielder on Los Angeles’ 40-man.” ZiPS projected 1.2 WAR for Amaya, assuming he receives adequate enjoying time. That WAR mark is definitely equal to what Rojas posted final yr; each are glove-first, though Amaya’s 14% walk-rate at Double- and Triple-A final season bodes effectively for his offensive ground. Giving Amaya the beginning job at brief nonetheless would have include extra threat than rolling out Rojas, certain, but additionally the identical quantity of roster flexibility and added luxurious tax flexibility. I stay up for seeing him get an opportunity in Miami; though Joey Wendle is at present blocking him there, Wendle’s been on the commerce block too. For Miami, this deal looks as if a no brainer.

But we cannot know precisely what the Dodgers have been pondering for no less than one other day or two. Maybe a last-minute Bauer commerce associate emerged. Maybe a deal for Muncy and/or Taylor is already within the works. Maybe the membership even has an settlement to flip Rojas for a participant higher than Amaya. Because in any other case it simply does not try that the Dodgers are so excessive on Rojas that they don’t seem to be solely keen to put aside main luxurious tax advantages for him, they’re additionally keen to half with a strong major-league prepared prospect. Mike DiGiovanna reported that the Dodgers have been already over the edge, but when that have been the case, why did they make it tougher to get again below it for Rojas? The subsequent luxurious tax threshold is at $253 million; at present, we estimate the Dodgers’ taxable bills at simply over $237 million. Elvis Andrus may have been had on the free agent market at no prospect price, and inking him for a bit greater than Rojas’ $5 million would have had the very same tax repercussions. I suppose we’ll simply have to attend and see, however this head-scratcher cannot be the final transfer of the offseason for baseball’s mannequin franchise. Can it?

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